Ever since its beginning, the internet has continued to enrich our lives by allowing us to see which Pokemon our personalities matched with or find new and unique ways to offend others. But now a government study is suggesting that it may also be the key to living a long and fruitful life.
In the 2022 edition of the Cabinet Office’s Annual Report on the Aging Society, a mail survey was conducted on over 2,000 men and women over the age of 65 across Japan. First they asked whether or not the seniors used the internet and social media and then whether they felt they had something to live for.
According to the responses it was learned that three times as many elderly people who were active online also felt that they had a purpose in life, compared to those who stayed away from the internet. The report concludes that this result proves “support for eliminating the digital divide of the elderly will continue to be important.”
Meanwhile, younger Japanese people online were rather surprised by the news and wrote comments expressing support for older people using the internet mixed with concern that they might not be equipped to handle some of the dangers that lurk online.
“I hope their ‘purpose’ isn’t some conspiracy theory.”
“I’m old enough to remember life before the internet when you had to get news from the TV, so I think it's good that my parents’ generation has access too.”
“That’s good news, but I hope they have the literacy to be safe online.”
“Social media seems to have the opposite effect on me.”
“Whenever I see older people on social media I notice they use their own faces in profile picture. I would never do that.”
“A lot of elderly people get disconnected from society, so this is a great way for them to stay in touch with others.”
“Curiosity, even good or bad, is the key to living.”
However, one potential problem in the survey, is that it simply says that online seniors have a sense of purpose, but it doesn’t mention causality. In other words it seems people are interpreting this to mean that being online is giving the elderly a sense of purpose when it seems equally, if not more, likely that it’s the seniors who already have a sense of purpose that are taking the plunge at going online.
After all, it’s not like using the internet these days is such a mentally taxing process, and doing most things from shopping to email to social media is really only difficult if you lack the motivation learn how to use them.
There’s also no shortage of examples of seniors in Japan who excel at technology and online activities. Elderly Japanese YouTubers such as Harumichi Shibasaki have been taking the world by storm, but it certainly seems like Shibasaki already had that charming zest for life before he ever made a Google account.
So, it’s probably wise for the government to look more deeply into how seniors and the internet are connected before trying to push them into using it more. There may very well be some underlying factors to address before introducing anyone unprepared to online platforms dedicated to the unfiltered exchange of ideas, like Crabhouse.
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